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State of the newspaper biz

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Joe Williams, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Just wondering: We're a couple years beyond the worst purgings of newspaper journalists nationwide, yet the aging core audience for those papers is a couple years older (or demised). But we don't hear about pain being dealt in quite the same way, at quite the same levels, as we did in 2008 and 2009.

    Did all that "right-sizing" work? Or was that the first shoe dropping, with the second one to follow? Have newspapers figured out how to survive and even thrive on diminishing circulation numbers, callow youth who won't buy the product and changes in the proportion of revenues generated by Web and print advertising?

    Or is it all still d-o-o-m-e-d?
  2. podunk press

    podunk press Active Member

    We just had one of our worst financial months ever, so, no, I'm not feeling terribly confident about matters.
  3. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    Newspapers realized in order to stay profitable they needed to stay ahead of the declining revenues. I don't see a newspaper taking steps at improving revenues, just maintaining margins on declining revenues.
  4. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    This is what's true. They are shrinking and sacrificing content to keep alive with business. Papers remind me of what blockbuster video is going through. Even when it was turning a profit the last decade, revenues pet declining. Eventually, it collapses.
  5. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Mentioned at this week's staff meeting at my shop:

    We lost another insert customer to direct mail ... a specialty-type grocery store that put fliers in our paper every Sunday. Well, they were glossy fliers and would sometimes stick together, meaning some Sunday papers had three fliers and the papers coming off the press last got none.

    Advertiser was sick of paying for ##,000 customers and not having all of them get their flier, so no more easy insert money for us.

    Unmentioned by the boss, but noted later in the newsroom, was how great this much-ballyhooed new inserting machinery was touted to be by management when it was installed for way-too-much money a few years ago. Sure, it saved money because less human beings were needed to put inserts in the paper. But when it screws up like this, with fewer people there to catch the mistake, turns out we lose some money.

    Sounds a lot like the situation in most newsrooms, sadly.
  6. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    Exactly, Coco. The 10 a.m. meeting people don't realize all this cost cutting just adds to the problems of newspapers.

    And the elimination of the only good sportswriters they have (ones who make a buck) also will backfire on them. How can getting rid of a stellar columnist for some kid entice advertisers? What advertiser would care what some punk kid has to say in a tweet or in an I-phone blip?
  7. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    My former paper was victimized on Wednesday by a corporate policy of outsourcing almost everything, notably composing and pagination and printing.

    And so it had to post a blurb on the front page Thursday explaining the absence of Wednesday's sports pages - they "were inadvertently omitted." Too fucking funny.

  8. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I'm not trying to be harsh here - but do you really think the advertisers care whether, for example, Jason Whitlock is still raising hell on the sports pages?

    They care about one thing - the bottom line.
  9. ringer

    ringer Member

    That photo says it all (and so does the typo in the blurb above it). Someone should send it to SportsCenter or Leno and let 'em go nuts with it.
  10. fossywriter8

    fossywriter8 Well-Known Member

    Several years ago (not quite a decade) the daily where I work got one of those new-fangled inserters. Higher-ups said it would speed up production while saving money because fewer people would be used. It came with a catch, though: Deadline time had to be moved way up (I believe 90 minutes, but I can’t quite remember because it was so many years ago) during the training period.

    Of course, the training occurred during a sports season — no one ever said why the inserter couldn’t have been purchased and installed in the summer — so our weekends got really stressful, but we were told it would only be temporary and the deadlines would go back to their original time after the mailroom people got used to the machine.

    They have never gone back to the original deadline time. They have crept back a little over the years, but nowhere near where they originally were. We still get stern reminders if the press runs one minute past deadline, even when the issue has nothing to do with the sports department.

    The kicker? The inserter is slower than the hand-stuffers were, and it’s not uncommon for glossy inserts to go from bunched-up to non-existent in papers.
  11. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    OMG, that is astonishing. Just left them out!
  12. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Isn't it always something how management touts the new equipment as being better, faster, stronger and in the end there's always something that fucks up?

    The really bad thing is a new press or insert machine is supposed to be "SO" much faster, but deadlines get moved back?

    My first shop had a press the super beat on with a rubber mallet. Our deadline was midnight, and later on football weekends. We didn't have a giant circulation but the paper was in the driveway before sunrise.
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